Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Late Models, Sprint Cars Headline Five Division Show
At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...Saturday night is a special night at Southern Oregon Speedway. This will be Veterans Night, meaning all active and retired military personnel with ID will get to watch the night's racing for free. The Late Models and Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars will both be in action for their fourth event of the season. Also competing will be the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets and Valley Store All Late Model Lites. Fans wanting a little bit more racing action can go to the little Southern Oregon Speedway track on Friday night for a full complement of Outlaw Karts, Flat Track Bikes, Quads and Three Wheelers.
Late Model fans will be in for a special treat on Saturday night. Joey Tanner is making his first visit to the speedway. Fans of the division will recognize Joey as perhaps the top driver currently competing in the state of Oregon. After posting back-to-back runner-up seasons in Late Models at Willamette Speedway, he won last season's championship. He has racked up eight feature wins on the circuit so far this year and currently leads the points at Willamette. He will be skipping out on a point race at his home track to come race at Southern Oregon Speedway.
Tanner got word of the great racing being done by two of this season's feature winners, point leader Trent Elliott and second-ranked Darren Coffell. With these three drivers in the field, Saturday's show should be very competitive. Having posted back-to-back third-place feature finishes, seven-time IMCA Modified champion Mark Wauge will also be mixing it up in the battle for victory. It promises to be a great show.
Other racers to watch for this week include Dave Foote, Miles Deubert, Dave Everson and Bob Dees. Word out of Springfield is that Cottage Grove championship contender Paul Culp will be making a visit. He's already won two Main Events at his home track this year.
After scoring a very dominant second feature win last week, Mike Wheeler increased his Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car point lead even more. Wheeler has gotten off to a strong start as he serves notice to the rest of the competition that he is one of the drivers to contend with in the championship battle. Last week also saw Enrique Jaime enjoy his best night yet as he finished third in the feature after winning the Scramble. Jaime is very much in contention for the track title this season as well.
After missing the season opener, Blaine Cory has looked very fast so far with a pair of Top 5 finishes. Cory will be going for his first win in this division on Saturday night, and other drivers to contend with include reigning champion David Hibbard, son Bailey Hibbard, rookie Anissa Curtice and past champions TJ Winningham and Charlie Thompson.
The Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock division has yielded some interesting results this season as Hunter Magnan is coming off of his first career win in the class. It was Ashtin Hedges getting his first win in the division at the season opener, while reigning champion and current point leader David Steele is the other winner. Steele managed to get a second place finish last week despite the fact that he was suffering motor problems in the waning laps of the race. The motor problems have Steele working overtime this week in getting another motor ready to go racing again. He is facing a strong challenge from Hedges in this year's championship chase.
After picking up a fifth place finish last week, 2017 champion Kristopher Mix is hoping this will be the week he gets his car to the winner's circle. 2013 champion Steve Goetz, who is coming up on his 60th birthday, will be hoping to pick up a win this week as well. Other drivers to watch for this week include rookie Dylan Irving, Andrew Hall and 2014 champion Gary Anderson.
The JOAT Labs Hornet drivers are all being challenged by the fast pace being set by point leader Dylan Sauer. Sauer has won all four Main Events held so far this year. Last week, rookie Quinton Tritchler gave Sauer a serious run for his money before finishing a season-best second. Tritchler could very well be the biggest challenge for Sauer this week. 2016 champion Tim Hedges blew a motor while running third late in the race last week, but he'll be back with another motor in his quest to get it to the winner's circle. Other racers to watch for include Jenna Hedges, Lacey Sauer, Shawn Nelson and Quinton's daughter, Bree Tritchler.
The Valley Store All Late Model Lites definitely set a rapid pace anytime they're on the track. Last week saw a clean sweep performance by Greg Arnold as he keeps up with Charlie Eaton in the championship battle. These two drivers are anticipated this week, and others to watch for include Eric Aos, Dusty Aos and Ross Payant.
Friday night at the little track has turned into quite a show with the addition of the Flat Track Bikes, Quads and Three Wheelers. The Three Wheelers, also called Trikes, have thrilled the crowd as such hard chargers as Garrett Stookey, Ryan Comstock and Mike Burson battle at the front of the pack. Flat Track Bike competitor Trevor Taylor has been rather dominant during the past two events. Mya Maffei and Theo Lount are two other fast competitors on the Bikes.
Meanwhile, Jayme DeBenedetti has rolled to a pair of wins in the Beginners Box Stock class as she leades the championship chase ahead of Isaac Grimes. Keaton Augustine has been proven to be very difficult to beat as he leads the Box Stock battle ahead of Kiley Grimes, while Kiley's older brother Trevor Grimes is leading a battle with Jacob James in the 250 Kart class. All three divisions will be there to put on a good show along with the other classes.
Gates open at 5 p.m. on Friday night with the first race starting at 7 pm. $10 gets you pit access and a bleacher seat.
On Saturday night, gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 p.m. Veterans and active military personnel with ID get in for free. General Admission adults are $13 with Seniors and Juniors 7 to 12 $7. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Last Saturday night was a more relaxed schedule of racing at Southern Oregon Speedway. This was in contrast to some of the busier nights the speedway has had in recent weeks. The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars returned to action along with the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, OTRO Hardtops and the Valley Store All Late Model Lites.
This was the third round of the Sprint Car championship season, and Mike Wheeler was entering the night as the driver to beat. People were still talking about his impressive performance in scoring his first career feature win last time out. With brother Vern Wheeler Jr turning wrenches as the crew chief, the team seems to have the right combination at the moment. Vern seems to keep himself very busy as he and son Jake went down to Chico, CA the night before to pick up a Top 5 finish in the Sprint Car show there. Jake is also in the midst of a potential championship run at Cottage Grove Speedway this year.
If you thought Mike Wheeler was impressive the last time, you were about to get a demonstration of just how much better he has gotten behind the wheel of his Sprint Car. On this occasion, Tanner Holmes was a surprise entrant. Tanner, like Jake Wheeler, is a contender for the Cottage Grove championship, but he went to Elma, Washington to run the Fred Brownfield Memorial race last weekend. After motor issues on Friday, the Holmes team made the decision to head back down to Medford and brought out the other car. Last time we saw Tanner at Southern Oregon Speedway, he was picking up a victory.
When young Tanner picked up a heat race win to start the night, it looked like Mike Wheeler was in for some stiff competition. Enrique Jaime, meanwhile, has been out there and perhaps not getting much fanfare. The past Asphalt Kart champion gained a little bit of attention by holding off Wheeler and Holmes to win the six lap Scramble. In doing so, Enrique earned the pole position for the Main Event.
There were a dozen competitors for this show, and each one of them did a good job. Only one yellow flag was waved throughout the race, and everybody survived to take the checkered flag. Jaime was able to lead a lap before Wheeler went charging by. After a lap four yellow flag, Wheeler set a blistering pace that would rival some of the impressive efforts turned in by champions David Hibbard and Kyler Barraza in the past two years. At one point, Wheeler was a half-lap ahead of the competition.
When Holmes put his car up on the outside in his battle with Jaime for the second position, you might have thought he'd just fly by and set his sights on Wheeler. However, Enrique was driving a very impressive race on the bottom groove. It wasn't until the 17th lap when Holmes finally got around for the position. By then, Wheeler was in cruise control as he hit slower traffic. It was the second-straight win for Wheeler, and he managed to increase his point lead over new second place competitor Jaime as a result.
The third place finish and Scramble victory for Jaime were career-best efforts for him, serving notice that he could be in line for a feature victory soon. The drivers might be breathing a sigh of relief that Holmes is only going to race when his schedule allows. Were he racing for points, it's likely that he and Wheeler would be running close in this battle.
It's still a bit of a logjam in the battle for second. Jaime just gained the position, but he only has 11 points separating himself from past champions TJ Winningham and Charlie Thompson, Holmes and Bailey Hibbard.
Blaine Corey is definitely making up for lost time after missing the season opener. The 2018 Rookie of the Year grabbed a podium finish in his first visit last time out. He enjoyed some good laps racing with rookie Anissa Curtice before taking over the fourth position and finishing there. Cory is another driver you should be watching in the race to get a victory. David Hibbard started deep in the pack and managed to grab a fifth at the checkered flag ahead of a season-best sixth for Curtice.
Curtice wasn't the only lady in the field for this show. Perennial Top 5 point competitor Raquel Ivie made her first visit to Southern Oregon Speedway in a couple of years. She pretty much abandoned a potential championship effort at Cottage Grove to be there last week and won her heat race. The Main Event didn't go as well as hoped as she finished at the tail end of the lead lap in ninth. She had been battling Winningham and Thompson, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively. These two crafty veterans are in need of a big finish this Saturday night.
David Steele is definitely the man to beat when it comes to the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks. If he's not winning, it's likely that you will have to beat him to get the victory. Steele has a pair of wins and leads the point battle in his attempt to defend the championship. However, Ashtin Hedges is being tenacious and running very well so far. He grabbed his second Trophy Dash win last week and was Top 3 throughout the Main Event. Hedges found himself battling Hunter Magnan, who eventually overtook him for the second position.
Motor problems have been a storyline in the Mini Stock division, and we have frequently heard of Steele helping other racers get those problems situated. Magnan showed up at the season opener, but the motor problems he came in with were never quite resolved. After missing the next race, he came back strong with a second place effort in the Main Event. But that was nothing compared to what was about to happen for the 2017 Rookie of the Year and 2018 championship runner-up.
Steele had checked out on the field and held a straightaway advantage. Frankly, when Magnan gained second, there wasn't much of a chance that he was going to catch Steele without a motor issue slowing the #67 car down. As it turned out, Steele was having motor issues, but it was a yellow flag for Dylan Irving that provided Magnan his opportunity. He shadowed Steele for a lap before charging by and grabbing his first career victory. Steele still got it home to a second place finish and clings to a seven point advantage over Hedges in the title chase.
It looks as if Steve Goetz has worked out the motor problems in his #55 car. Steve, who will be turning 60 years old, won his heat race and had a solid fourth place feature finish. Points aren't really much of a consideration for both he and fellow past champion Gary Anderson, but this duo should not be counted out when it comes to grabbing a victory. They have both won their share through the years. Another driver hungry for victory is Kristopher Mix.
Running in the third point position, Mix is still in championship contention, but the 2017 title winner knows that the time for victory is now. Last time out, he managed a respectable fifth place finish, but he knows he can get more out of his #89 car, which he drove to a feature win on one occasion last season. Mix is enjoying his time at the track these days with teammate Andrew Hall back in action once again.
Hall, who is a past Top 5 point runner in this class who has finished as high as second in the Main Event, wheeled the iconic Pinto Wagon for a couple of years and got some good results out of that car. When the car got totaled in an early-season crash last year, he tried unsuccessfully to find another Pinto Wagon. Though he didn't find a Wagon, he is the only driver in the field running a Pinto. The car is fast, and once he gets a handle on it, Hall shouldn't be counted out in the battle for wins.
There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to going from Hornets to Mini Stocks. A driver making that move is definitely making a move up. Hedges is the latest driver to really be successful in this endeavor, and we have rookies Dylan Irving and teammate Brandon Wonsyld in the class now. Both drivers were Top 5 ranked in Hornets last season with feature wins. It was Wonsyld leading that group with four wins. However, he's definitely been struggling to get the handle on his car so far this year. These two drivers are quick studies, and it won't be a surprise to see them start getting some good results in the weeks ahead.
The Hornets division has been pretty-much conquered by Dylan Sauer so far. Nobody saw the second-year competitor coming, but after four-straight victories, they know who he is now. He's the point leader, and he's starting to pull away from Tim Hedges. Sauer did find himself in a very intense battle with rookie Quinton Tritchler, who is piloting his daughter Bree's championship car from last year. When Sauer got the lead, he might have been thinking it was smooth sailing from there, but the blue #24 car wasn't having any of that. They exchanged the lead a couple of times before Sauer got back in front. Tritchler still made a charge to the line that fell just inches short in his second place finish.
While the racers scramble to figure out what they need to do to beat Sauer, Hedges has work to do to get his #14t car ready this week. He blew a motor while running in third on the last lap of the Main Event. Despite that, he still managed to end up fourth to earn a Trophy Dash spot in the coming race. Tim will be hoping to have the motor problem situated as he needs to make up some of the 18 points he trails Sauer by.
Jenna Hedges managed another podium finish in third last week as things seem to be going well with the #27j car at this stage of the season. She trails her husband Tim by 13 points and will make her presence known in that battle pretty soon if the trend continues. Two years ago, she beat her husband to finish second in the standings as she also won Rookie of the Year honors. She's one of those drivers who should not be counted out in the battle for victory.
Some of the racers are still reeling from the damage they sustained at the June 15th race, and this left the Nelson family on the sidelines. Though the #28 car of Chris Boynton had been repaired, he spent the week recuperating from a back injury. Hopefully, he'll be able to get back behind the wheel of his car this week when the Hornets return for their fifth event of the season.
In the rookie column, we have a battle going on between Lacey Sauer and Shawn Nelson. It was Sauer holding off Nelson for the fifth place finish last time out. Nelson finished fourth the week before to earn his first Trophy Dash start. Lacey, however, holds a six point lead over Nelson in the battle for fifth in the standings. The top rookie in the field, however, continues to be Quinton Tritchler. He leads Lacey by 20 points.
The Valley Store All Late Model Lites saw the return of Eric and Dusty Aos. The father and son team was able to both compete as Dusty was driving the car driven by Pete Bowne at the opener. He found the handle to be just a bit challenging in the Main Event as he spun on multiple occasions. Father Eric was running along in second when mechanical issues sent him to the pits. Hopefully the team will be back this week.
We saw Lee Doty bring his #7 car back with long-time Southern Oregon racer Ross Payant behind the wheel. Payant, unfortunately, got caught up in a tangle in the second turn in the Trophy Dash to end his night earlier than he would have liked. The car definitely has some get up and go, and it may be a case of Payant shaking off some of the cobwebs and coming back to try again. This will not be a team to count out in the quest for victory.
The battle at the front of the pack was the same as it's been for the past year. Reigning champion Charlie Eaton is racing with past Super Truck champion Greg Arnold. Eaton managed to win the season opener, but Arnold was just a bit faster on this occasion. Arnold was never really threatened in the Main Event, which capped a clean sweep of heat, Dash and Main.
At some point, when scheduling allows, Arnold will be dropping a Late Model motor into his car, but he's committed to supporting the Late Model Lites cause. Like the other drivers there on this occasion, he's hoping some of the other area competitors with cars get them to the speedway as soon as possible.
When we talked about the show that got a little bit rough at times a couple of weeks ago, the OTRO Hardtops were the group that got on the track and ran a relatively smooth Main Event, won by Dean Cast that night. Saturday night, these drivers weren't as smooth, and only four of the nine who started the race took the checkered flag on the lead lap. Two of them lost laps in the pits, and three drivers watched from the finish from the sidelines after various yellow flag incidents.
Surprisingly, Mark Minter was one of those drivers who was done early. He was in the midst of making a play for the lead when he brushed the back wall to put an end to his race. The Minter car is seen by most as the nicest looking machine in the field. He is the only driver in the group who has won the Main Event in this class at Southern Oregon Speedway in each of the past three seasons, and he'd like to continue that trend this year. He'll get another opportunity on July 13th.
At the front of the pack, Bill Trotter was battling with the truck that he owns, driven by Jay Smith. Smith has done a better job of wheeling that truck than anybody since OTRO started racing at Southern Oregon Speedway in 2016. It won't be a surprise to see him get a win, but it wasn't to be on this occasion. Cast managed to get the lead on lap 11 and would pace the remaining circuits for his second-straight win, while Trotter held off Smith to finish second.
Eric DeRamus didn't have the type of debut he would have liked when he slammed the front wall in the Trophy Dash last time out. However, the #13 car that was wheeled for many years by his father Ted DeRamus was back and ready for more. Eric stayed out of trouble and grabbed a lead lap fourth place feature finish, which had to make him happy at the end of the night.
Darryl Haugh hasn't raced for about 15 years. The past open wheel competitor got to drive the former Dusty Trotter car and rattled off victories in both the Trophy Dash and his heat race ahead of newcomer Brian Weberg II. Unfortunately, he had to make a pit stop in the Main Event, but he took the checkered flag in fifth. Darryl definitely isn't afraid to do what he needs to do to get the most out of his race car.
Little Southern Oregon Speedway will have racing again this Friday night. It's uncertain what the Kart turnout might be with a neighboring track also booking a date on the same night, but there is a nice, loyal group of young competitors in the 250, Box Stock and Beginners classes. However, management recently made the announcement that due to lack of support, the 500 Open class has been dropped from the schedule for the remainder of the season.
In the past couple of seasons, the 250 Karts have taken on the mantle as the top Cage Kart class, and one of the big stars in the group is 2017 champion Trevor Grimes. However, Grimes and everybody else in the field could only watch as Taylor Fuller dominated the Main Event for his first career win last time out. Young Taylor has now won features in Beginners, Box Stock and 250 Karts.
Vinny DeBenedetti has had a rough start this year, but it looked like he had those issues resolved as he ran second in the Main Event for most of the way after winning the second heat race. Bad luck struck again as Vinny pitted with two laps to go, handing second to Cadyn Smith. Smith, who is a past Beginners Box Stock champ at the speedway, did a good job of repelling the advances of both Jacob James and Grimes on the last lap to finish second. That's his best effort in this class to date.
Meanwhile, James made a valiant effort in trying to get around Smith on the outside in the final turn, but unfortunately he opened the door with that maneuver, allowing Grimes to get by on the inside for third. The championship battle is still close between Grimes, James and DeBenedetti.
Keaton Augustine is rapidly pulling away from Kiley Grimes in the Box Stock class after three-straight feature wins. He's just a little bit faster than the past Beginners Box Stock champion at this moment, but you can see a marked improvement in Kiley's driving so far. We did see the return of Malachi Johnson at the most recent race, which resulted in him finishing second. The 2017 Beginners Box Stock champion Johnson is just making the move up from the other class this year and is sure to get better with each start.
The departure of Johnson and Mikey Wheeler from the Beginners class and the short stint that Albert Gill Jr had in that division has opened the door for new drivers to race for the glory. Last season's third-ranked competitor Jayme DeBenedetti has been the first driver of the group to reach for the brass ring. Jayme has turned in two rather dominant performances in victory as she increases her advantage over Isaac Grimes. Grimes has won multiple heat races, but he's still searching for his first win in this class. He may be the best threat to beat DeBenedetti this week.
However, we've witnessed a marked improvement from young Caleb Ranney. Ranney was one of those young competitors who at times didn't want to get into his Kart last season. Not only is he racing, he's racing a little bit harder and becoming more competitive. Last time out, Caleb finished second ahead of Isaac Grimes. Could he be in line for his first-ever Main Event win this week?
It's a newer crop of drivers in the Beginners class, which includes Novice Box Stock champion Bhaltair Edwards, Talia Colley, Saige King and Urijah Boardman. It's fun watching these drivers as they are making their first laps and competing for their first wins.
What other Karts might show up will remain to be seen, but we also know that there will be Flat Track Bikes, Quads and Trikes this week. Trevor Taylor has set a rapid pace in Flat Track Bike competition, winning on the Open, 450cc and 250cc levels for the past two events. The two riders who have emerged as his biggest challenges are Theo Lount and Mya Maffei. Maffei has done an excellent job as she has shown a willingness to run on the high side and the low side. She's definitely not intimidated and could be the rider to knock Taylor from the winner's circle.
The Trikes are a very exciting brand of racing that you have to see to believe. These are three-wheel vehicles that don't tend to get much opportunity to race at other venues. The riders have come down from as far as Rainier, Washington to be with us, and some of the riders making waves include Ryan Comstock, Garrett Stookey, Ben Herbert and Mike Burson. Last time out, there were enough vehicles to produce two classifications, a big and little class. Some of the riders competed in both. Herbert and Stookey were the winners, and Herbert also won in the Quad class.
The addition of these different forms of racing has enabled the little Southern Oregon Speedway track to continue and work on developing better things for the future. It also makes for an interesting night when you get such a variety of different vehicles from the Cage Karts to the Bikes and everything in between. Friday night has become a fun night to come to Little Southern Oregon Speedway, which should again be the case this week.